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I couldn't agree more with Joan Margaret Humphries' Viewpoint, "Breastfeeding Promotion" (December 2011). At my place of work, we see women prenatally and postpartum, and a big emphasis is placed on breastfeeding. It's the ultimate goal, pretty much at all costs. I've seen many women go to extremes to make breastfeeding work, often to the detriment of themselves and their families. Some of these women weren't very healthy, and some were very young. I also see the guilt and frustration when things don't go as planned-it's heartbreaking.
Part of the reason for this, I believe, is our promotional efforts. Many of the handouts provided by my facility include guilt-inducing information about the ways in which breastfeeding prevents conditions such as asthma and allergies, obesity, and diabetes. Recent research suggests this association isn't certain.1, 2 Our promotional materials also make it sound like breastfeeding always works and is easy, and that low milk supply is all in the mother's head. In my experience, I've found this to be untrue.
I hope your article makes nurses view breastfeeding promotion in a new light, and that it takes some pressure off new mothers.
Name withheld by request
1. Duncan JM, Sears MR. Breastfeeding and allergies: time for a change in paradigm? Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008;8(5):398-405 [Context Link]
2. Fall CH, et al. Infant-feeding patterns and cardiovascular risk factors in young adulthood: data from five cohorts in low- and middle-income countries Int J Epidemiol. 2011;40(1):47-62 [Context Link]
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